Sean Williams

Hollowgirl (aka Fall) now available!

posted on 3 Nov 2015 at 12:01 am

HollowGirl-HC-CoverAt last it’s here, the conclusion to the Twinmaker series – hailed as “mind-boggling” (Locus), “a philosophical marathon” (Kirkus), and “a gripping sci-fi story of friendship, identity + accidentally destroying the universe” (Amie Kaufman). Toot toot! (That’s me blowing my own horn.)

When I started this series, I knew fairly specifically where I wanted to go. Along the way I added some twists and turns that added to the character and plot while at the same time reinforcing the ideas I wanted to explore. By the time I came to write book three, it was looking wildly over-ambitious and utterly impossible to write.

Except it wasn’t. Stories go where they need to go, and with the help of my wonderful editor Kristin Rens the hardest book I have ever written gradually took shape. In it we see Clair, Q, Jesse, Libby and Zep grapple with the hard realities of their lives – lives that are powerfully transformed by a technology out of control. The fact that there’s more than one Clair makes things even more interesting. (Beware spoilers!) If you can’t trust yourself, the only person you can turn to is your best friend.

This my 48th book, meaning that I have once again reached book/age parity. I’m having a gap year in 2016, but the year after promises two new novels and maybe a collection, so I hope to be 50:50 for 2017. But who’s counting? (Me, obviously!)

Here’s an excerpt from the new book, different from the one in the latest newsletter and on the Twinmakerbooks site.

Also! “Redux” a linking novel from Jesse’s point of view, available for $1 right now.

For links to guest posts and interviews, see this roundup here.

“I’m you,” Clair said, staring right at her double. The other Clair wasn’t exactly the same: her hair was shorter; her face was clean. “I’m not a dupe.”

“What’s a dupe?” asked Tash.

The question took her by surprise. “A copy of a person with someone else’s mind inside. Don’t you remember?”

“That’s just an urban myth,” said Ronnie, her eyebrows meeting in a frown behind the frame of her glasses, “like Improvement.”

“Improvement isn’t a myth,” said Clair and Libby at the same time.

They looked at each other, then away.

FALL finalClair began to understand then. Libby was wearing a silver dress with white tights and red boots. The other Clair was wearing blue plaid and a navy headband. Zep had on a red checked shirt and tight blue jeans. Tash and Ronnie had dressed in their best party gear too. Clair knew these outfits. They had worn them to the ball. But it wasn’t only their clothes that dated back two weeks or more.

“You’ve just used Improvement, haven’t you?” she said to Libby. “That’s when you were copied, and everyone else with you, because you used Improvement on the way to the ball. I remember you telling us about it there.”

“Telling us about what?” asked the other Clair.

“I didn’t tell anyone anything,” said Libby. She was flushed now, a carnation pink that was anything but delicate.

“You did, only it wasn’t this version of you.” Clair wished there was an easy way to explain, and someone else to do it for her, since she doubted they would take her word for it.

Then she remembered that there was someone else.

“Q? Can you help me out here? Are you listening?”

“I am listening, Clair,” said Q. By the way the others reacted, Clair knew that they were hearing the voice too. No more asking for permission to open chats; Q was much cleverer now that she knew what she was.

“My name is Q,” she said, her tone more measured than when she talked to Clair. “I am not human, but I am Clair’s friend and I want to help her help you. I will explain what has happened, and afterward I will answer your questions as best as I can.”

“Wait,” said the other Clair, who Clair was beginning to think of as Clair 1.0: the Clair she had been before the crashlander ball. “First tell me why there’s a copy of me but not of anyone else.”

“It’s not deliberate,” Clair said. “That’s just how it worked out.”

“Why?” A flash of anxiety crossed her double’s face. “What did I do to deserve this?”

Again, a flash of unwarranted but irrepressible shame. “Q will explain, if you let her.”

SW_Hollow_girl_64419_4“I want to hear it from you.”

Clair tightened her lips. They had the same genes. They were equally stubborn. If Clair 1.0 wanted to force the issue, Clair 6.0 was happy to push back, but what was the point?

“I’m not the copy,” she said bluntly. “You are. You’re a backup saved when Libby used Improvement, the same as everyone else here.” She hesitated, then pressed on, knowing that this would be as hard for them to hear as it was for her to say. “The reason why there’s only one of them is because their originals are dead.”

That provoked another shocked reaction, more of disbelief than anything else.

I’m not a copy,” said Tash.

“And neither am I,” said Clair 1.0, narrowing her eyes. “I’m me and I’m real and if this is some kind of stupid crashlander hazing, then screw you and whoever’s behind it. We don’t want to belong to your clique anymore.”

Clair understood. They didn’t trust this new Clair, and looking at it from their point of view, who could blame them?

“It’s hard to explain,” she said in a softer tone. “I made a mistake. I made lots of mistakes. If you just let Q talk, she’ll tell you all about it.”

“But first,” said Q, “a correction. Not all of you are dead. It is quite likely that Tash has survived, outside.”

“Well, that’s a huge relief to the rest of us,” said Zep.

“Outside where?” asked Libby.

“What’s inside?” asked Ronnie.

At least, thought Clair, they had moved on to different questions.